Sen. Dodd's recent explanation to the Napa Valley Register's question as to why he has chosen to be the leader in opposition to the helicopter initiative Measure D, is odd, to say the least, and raises several questions -- none of which are flattering ("Backers of Napa County ballot measures cry foul on opposition arguments," April 4).
Sen. Dodd says that he opposes Measure D because it "may have unintended consequences" and that the "supervisors of Napa County are perfectly capable of handling these issues without resorting to initiatives."
How can anyone disagree that the supervisors are perfectly capable of handling these issues? The problem is that while capable, they have been unwilling.
For the past three years, they have been watching this single Palmaz application consume almost 20 percent of the Planning Commission's hearings (where would we be if they were considering two?) and stonewalled the legislative avenue when submitted to them by the law firm of Farella, Brown & Martell, causing it to be withdrawn. Having tried and been ignored, the people have been left with no other choice.
As for "unintended consequences," they pale in comparison to the misleading arguments Sen. Dodd and his three cosigners have placed on the ballot. Contending that Measure D provisions will prevent the replacement of power poles and power lines by PG&E and impede emergency medical services and that persons delivering them may be subject to prosecution are so outrageous as to be an affront to the intelligence of the electorate.
These services are being delivered right now because they are protected by sections of the Code by right, which Measure D does not change.
Second, the utility and emergency helicopters used are not personal use helicopters, which Measure D addresses exclusively and defined in the Code as those "limited to noncommercial activities of an individual owner or family and occasional invited guests." Where is the fit?
Third, personal use heliports have nothing to do with where utility and emergency helicopters land. To argue that they do defies logic.
Neither are PG&E and emergency service helicopters ones that engage in "direct agricultural production such as aerial spraying and frost protection" as specified in the Code, the landings of which Measure D limits at vineyards. Where is the fit?
It is highly troubling that Sen. Dodd, his cosigner in opposition, St. Helena Vice Mayor Peter White, and the others, have consistently refused to participate in the forums organized by the Napa Valley Democrats (who have endorsed the measure), the one by the Hagen Road community and the two by the League of Women Voters. Invoking other commitments for weeks on end cannot hide the fact that it would be embarrassing to defend the indefensible in a public forum.
The fact that Sacramento is trying to dictate Napa County land use raises legitimate questions of whose interests Sen. Dodd represents. As supervisor in 2004, he championed the opposition to the Napa county ordinance that prohibits helicopter landings at wineries -- some 460 of them now -- for tourists. At the time, he once again warned of "unintended consequences" that never happened and the Napa Valley is that much better for it.
Particularly troubling is that at the time, then-Supervisor Dodd did not shy away from bringing a national entity, the Pilots' Association, to help him support his agenda of tourist winery hopping by helicopters.
Given the fact that if Measure D is approved by the voters, it will be the first in the nation, potentially inspiring other communities to emulate it while they still can. We must be prepared to face adversarial national interests in an all-out effort to impose local Napa County land use policy on us.
Once again, Sen. Dodd has elected to be its champion.
Editor’s note: The Register has asked Dodd about appearances at forums on the measure and he said his legislative calendar has not allowed him to attend.
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